Okla. Senate panel approves 3 anti-abortion bills
By SEAN MURPHY
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Legislation that would make it more difficult for minors to receive an abortion without notifying their parents sailed through a Republican-controlled Senate committee on Monday despite the objections of Democrats.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services approved three abortion-related bills on 6-2 party-line votes, sending them to the full Senate.
Two of the bills would restrict the use of "judicial bypass," a procedure that allows those younger than 18 to seek a judge's permission to get an abortion without parental consent. The third bill would add more than two dozen questions that abortion providers must answer as part of a questionnaire on the procedure gathered by state health officials.
Abortion opponents argued that Oklahoma's judicial bypass is being exploited by abortion providers seeking out judges who routinely approve the practice, but abortion rights supporters said it is rarely used and necessary in cases where teenagers facing an unwanted pregnancy might face abuse from upset parents.
The first bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, would require a parent of a minor seeking an abortion to provide a government-issued photo identification and limit judicial bypass to the county where the minor lives. The second measure, by Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, requires parental notification in all cases, except if the pregnant girl or teenager declares she is a victim of sexual or physical abuse by a parent.
Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Forest Park, opposed all three measures and accused Republicans of putting more barriers in front of women seeking a legal medical procedure that has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"This bill is yet another attempt to interfere with women's reproductive health care rights," Johnson said. "This is a decision that's up to a woman and her doctor."
The final bill, which adds questions abortion providers must answer, was designed to update the questionnaire to include several abortion-related measures that have passed in recent years, said Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City. Loveless sponsored the bill in the Senate. But opponents have argued the measure is an attempt to intimidate and overburden abortion providers.
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